13 February 2024

11 Questions You Need to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider

By Ronald Smith

So you’ve decided to jump into the world of cloud computing. It’s an exciting step, but now comes the important part – finding the right cloud services provider for you.

A cloud service provider (CSP) is basically a company that offers different cloud computing services like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. But with so many options out there, how do you know which one is the best fit for your small business? Well, I’ve got some questions that will help you find the answer.

Here are the questions you need to ask your cloud service provider:

Just like with web hosting providers, not all cloud service providers are created equal. By asking these questions – in any order you choose, except for the first one – you’ll be able to weed out the ones that aren’t right for you.

1. What Cloud Computing Services Do You Provide?

Let’s start by asking this important question to narrow down our options. If a provider doesn’t offer the specific cloud services you need, they won’t be a good fit for you.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a complete SaaS business management suite, but a service provider doesn’t offer that. In this case, it’s time to move on and remove them from your list of potential providers.

2. Where Is Our Data Stored?

It’s essential to know where your data will be stored. You want to make sure it’s kept in a modern and up-to-date data center. This will ensure both reliability and high performance when accessing the services.

Having a backup data center is a great bonus. It means that if something goes wrong at the main data center, like an earthquake, flood, or power outage, your services can easily switch over to a secondary data center without causing much trouble for you.

3. How safe is our data?

  • I want to know about their security policies and practices.
  • I’m curious about the size and experience of their security team.
  • I also want to learn about any past breaches or issues they may have had.

4. Do you regularly backup our data? If so, how quickly can you restore it?

Backing up and restoring data is crucial for cloud computing. If your data gets deleted, corrupted, or even targeted by ransomware, restoring a recent backup is the best solution.

Timing is crucial in this situation because the longer the backup has been stored, the more data will be lost when it’s restored. You should ask potential providers if they offer hot backups, which are done regularly throughout the day. This way, you’ll only lose an hour or two of data when you need to restore your system.

It’s also important to find out how long it takes to complete a restore. Waiting for days to get back up and running can be very frustrating.

5. How often do you experience service outages and how long do they usually last?

This is a vital question because the average cost of downtime for small and medium-sized businesses is $7,900 per minute.

Don’t be discouraged if a provider has experienced outages before; it happens to everyone. Instead, focus on the frequency and duration of the outages. A great cloud service provider has very few outages, and when they do happen, they are resolved quickly.

When looking for a provider, it’s also important to inquire about maintenance outages. These are planned outages when the provider upgrades their hardware and software. You’ll want to know how much advance notice you’ll receive so that you can plan accordingly, and whether these outages will occur during business hours, which can directly impact you.

6. How easy is it to manage my services?

Many small businesses have small IT teams, or sometimes no IT teams at all. That’s why it’s crucial to be able to easily manage your hosted services when choosing a provider.

Luckily, many providers offer consolidated services management functionality, which can greatly assist small businesses in accomplishing more with fewer resources.

7. How flexible are my services?

One of the great things about cloud computing is its ability to add capacity and services as you need them, and remove them when they’re no longer needed. This flexible consumption license model will save your small business money by allowing you to run short-term projects without having to permanently purchase hardware and software licenses.

Make sure your cloud provider offers flexible consumption. Even if you don’t need it right now, you’ll be happy to have it in the future.

8. Can You Combine All My Service Charges Into One Bill?

Both your IT and finance teams will appreciate this question because by combining your cloud services bill into one, you’ll have a clear view of what you’re buying and using.

When it comes to the flexible consumption licensing model mentioned earlier, it allows you to easily check if you’re paying for services you no longer use. It also helps you determine if you’re approaching a limit and need to purchase more services.

While you’re looking into this, make sure to inquire about service charge increases from potential cloud service providers. How often do these increases happen and how much advance notice will you receive?

9. What kind of Service-Level-Agreements (SLAs) do you provide?

A service-level-agreement (SLA) is a commitment to provide a specific level of service. This could include uptime, backups, restores, and more.

Service providers often offer multiple tiers of SLAs. For instance, a lower-priced tier may guarantee that a restore request will be done within a business day, while a higher-priced tier promises completion within an hour.

Don’t forget to ask about any penalties, like having to pay money or getting free services for a while, if the provider doesn’t keep their promises in the SLA.

10. Can you give me some references?

This is a really important question to ask. You shouldn’t just trust the service provider when they say they’re good. Ask to talk to their current customers without the provider being there.

Also, try searching on Google for (provider name) review. That way, you can find more opinions and information to help you make your decision.

11. What cloud offers can I try to see if your services are good?

I want to tell you about something cool. See, most companies don’t usually offer deals to explore new ideas. But guess what? Meylah is different! They give you a chance to test things out for free! For example, if you have an app that needs to move to the cloud, Meylah offers $1,500 worth of assessment services to help you plan the migration. And if you need help developing a cloud application, they’ll give you $2,000 in development services. How awesome is that?

Wrapping Up

Okay, now let’s talk about finding the best cloud service provider for your small business. Here are some questions you should ask to help you narrow down the options:

1. What can the provider offer that will meet your needs?

2. How secure and reliable is their service?

3. Are there any limits or technical specifications you should know about?

4. Do they have experience dealing with your industry’s compliance requirements?

Remember, keep asking questions until you’re satisfied that a provider is the right fit for you. It’s always better to find out things beforehand rather than later when it’s more expensive to make changes.